Scrivener

Improve your writing with TextSoap

While getting ready for 2020, it occurred to me I can use TextSoap’s regex engine to improve my writing by finding and highlighting common and overused words. There are 3 steps to the process:

  • Use the “If Text Matches” action with a list of words I want to highlight
  • Format the foreground and background colors of the text
  • Set problem words to capitals so they stand out

After checking a couple of websites, I created this short list of words to focus on.

\b(and|or|for example|but|just|other|more|new|good|best|many|first|able|basically|interesting|honestly|literally|very|really|quite|seems|had|even|that|seriously|to be honest|ridiculous|know)\b

From there I used the Set Text Color, Set Background Color filters, followed by the Convert to Uppercase action.

When finished, the “cleaner” can run inside Scrivener itself, so I don’t have to leave my main app to get feedback.

It’s a simple formatter, but I think this will have a powerful impact.

textsoap-common-words

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Scrivener Specials for National Novel Writing Month

November is National Novel Writing Month and the folks behind Scrivener are big supporters of the event. That being said, they offer a 20% discount on Scrivener, as well as a special version of Scrivener to help you get acquainted with the software.

The special edition works the same as the trial, but has a longer expiration period. For those already entertaining the idea of buying a copy, now is a good time to act. As mentioned, you can get a 20% discount. This can be applied to the Windows or Mac versions of Scrivener and Scapple.

Again, I highly recommend Scrivener. I’ve been using it regularly for well over a year and will never go back to using Word again. I write all my blog articles, short stories and journal entries in it. I love the Document Notes, the Snapshots, the Folders, the Binder and of course the ability to have dozens of documents available as I write.

It is a brilliant piece of software, and if you use it for a day, you will see just how awkward Word really is for writing. Scrivener promotes organization, but allows you to jump around and follow the flow of your ideas.

Head over to the special offers page and get the best writing tool you will ever work with.

Scrivener – Special Offers

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Scriver for Mac/Win 50% Off, Scapple for Mac/win 40% Off

Back in November I picked up a copy of Scrivener and have been using it as my writing tool of choice ever since. It’s a fantastic piece of software with all the tools you need for writing without all of the junk you’ll never use. For example, it doesn’t come with Art, Tables, Graphs and an endless series of styles that just get in the way. Its perfect for letters, books, documents, journals, stories and blog articles. In fact, all my blog articles are now written in Scrivener after having retired out my venerable favorite, OneNote.

I wasn’t quite sure what all the fuss and fury was about until I really sat down and tried it. For those of us who have been browbeaten by Word, it will indeed seem a little strange. But after just a day of working with it and going through the quick project tutorial, I’ve never looked back.

It’s so much easier to work with multiple documents at the same time without having to switch windows and jump through hoops. It has all the editing features you need without all that fluff. In fact, I can take notes on my iPad, Sync those to my desktop, put those notes as “Document Notes” within Scrivener and have them available for whatever article I’m working on. I haven’t lost any note taking functionality.

Anyway, enough about how cool the program is, let’s get to the meat of it. BitsDuJour is running a special with 50% Off the purchase price. That gives you a sale price of $22.50 which is a steal! Plus, that single license allows you to cover multiple machines. You can put a copy on your desktop and laptop without additional fees. They have a very generous licensing program that other vendors should follow.

I have both the Mac and Windows versions and exchange files without a hiccup.

But that’s not all. Literature and Latte have another neat little app called Scapple. It’s a helpful little tool to map out ideas and draw connections between them. Very useful to show how ideas flow together, how scenes fit together, or how character in a story will interact. Interestingly, when I look at it, it makes me think of how a Choose Your Own Adventure game/story would be put together with all the branches a story could take.

Normally, Scapple is $14.99, but there is a 40% Off discount today as well. Again, there is a Mac and Windows version. I now have both. I have a couple of short story ideas and I think Scapple will be fun to plot them out in.

So, both apps are great and both are on sale. If you missed the sale back in November, now is your chance to get a copy of perhaps one of the best writing tools around. Scrivener is very powerful, but also easy to use. If you’re still using Word, I highly recommend giving Scrivener a try. Yes, it will feel a bit different, but within an hour or two, you should come to see just how inconvenient working within the Word framework really is.

Scrivener
Scapple

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Getting the hang of Scrivener

Now that I’ve completed the tutorial for Scrivener, I’m starting to get the hang of how this application works. In some ways it’s like OneNote as well as AllMyNotes Organizer and RightNote. In fact, it seems to pull in bits and pieces from a lot of familiar apps. In simple terms, there is a tree/folder structure and an editor. And unlike other tools, like Word for example, the focus is on writing, not formatting. That’s one thing I really like, there’s not some over powering, all encompassing, ever intrusive ribbon of formatting and view options that just gets in the way.

The first order of business was to build a structure and import some old writing into it. That was actually quite easy now that my articles have been copied out of OneNote and turned into .TXT files. That was actually done with the help of Notebooks for Windows.

Since these are all older works, my goal was to basically archive them in one place where they could be easily organized and referenced. So far, that’s working quite well. Moving forward, I already have another Scrivener project put together for 2016 with folders related to particular topics. While this is actually quite neat, In many respects, this isn’t really the right way to use Scrivener. Sure, it can be used as a document warehouse, and there’s no reason not to, but it’s really meant for writing longer documents such as putting together lengthy pieces of fiction and non-fiction like books or manuals. For the moment, I’m just trying to organize what I already have and use it as a Binder for the future.

And while I’m not writing a book, at least not at the moment, I can see exactly why people turn to Scrivener. It really does move in the direction of writing small pieces and then “compiling” the finished product. I’m going to practice writing blog articles and when I’m comfortable enough, I do have another, much larger writing project in the works. Some friends and I are working on fiction pieces for Shroud of the Avatar. I can already see how Scrivener will help organize, sort and build the final product.

I also plan to use Scrivener for the “free writing” I do on a regular basis. These are ideas, observations and snippets for later projects that I toy with through the day. I do a lot of writing just for fun and it will be nice to hold them all in one place organized mostly by the month they were written in. Since I can add labels, it will make ideas easier to find so I can expand on them later.

I don’t know if Scrivener will be my daily editor of choice, at least not yet. I have both the Windows and Mac versions so it’s certainly possible, but some of the day to day tasks might actually fall to Notebooks for Mac. It’s just an editor, plain and simple. It has a folder structure, but, at least the way I use it, I just start writing without worrying about where it might fit, or even if it does fit, into the overall structure of what I was previously working on. Sometimes I just get an idea and want to run with it without thinking too far ahead. Those ideas could then be imported or synched into Scrivener and I can go from there.

Once thing I have noticed, and this is simply a result of the development time, there are quite a few differences between Scrivener for Mac and Windows with Mac clearly having the most features. The basics are all still there, but some of the finer tuning doesn’t exist on the Windows side yet. I prefer the editor in the Mac version.

However, I’m really starting to take a shine to Scrivener. It’s taken me awhile to make a commitment to using it, but I can see why writers ditch Word and switch over.

Another benefit will be I can go back and compile everything I’ve written on the whole or on a certain subject to see what topics I covered and how much content it was. I’m always curious as to what really goes into a blog over the course of a year.

So yes, my plan of moving away from OneNote is in full swing.

Other articles of interest:

Out of OneNote and into Notebooks with Scrivner

Since we’re in the final days of the year, the tradition is to get rid of the old and bring in the new. One of the things I plan to do for the new year is move all of my writing from OneNote over to Notebooks and Scrivener. That is a big change for me as I’ve been using OneNote for nearly 5 years now.

So why move away from it?
– I’m still using OneNote 2007 because I simply can’t stand the UI of the more recent versions
– The file format doesn’t translate well from Windows to Mac to iOS
– OneNote has almost nonexistent export functions
– OneNote doesn’t integrate with anything
– While OneNote may be free, Microsoft is trying too damn hard to tie it to their cloud services and I simply can’t trust that
– UI aside, it’s becoming bloated with useless features giving it a huge footprint

For the future, I’ve decided to go with Notebooks for Windows as well as Scrivener. These were on sale for Black Friday so I took advantage and got the Windows and Mac versions.

So now what? The first goal is to get everything out of OneNote. While it’s slow and tedious, you can right-click on a tab and select Copy, which gets everything on the tab. This can be Pasted into Notebooks which saves it as a .TXT file which everything and anything can read and edit.

Once all the files are copied over and organized into folders within Notebooks, they will be imported into the same folder structure in Scrivener.

So why use Scrivener? I saw an article refer to Scrivener as the IDE of documents and that seems pretty accurate. I will create folders so I can store and sort my writing like I did in OneNote. Now I can start a project pretty much anywhere and it will all end up in the same place.

Scrivener will also help break down large projects into smaller, more manageable chunks. It main goal is to have you write down small scenes or narratives then compiles them all into the final product. This will be very beneficial for a couple of projects I have planned for the year.

Now the big task, getting 5 years worth of text out of OneNote.

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